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Mau earns Outstanding Citizen of the Year

Area businessman, volunteer and philanthropist Steve Mau was recognized Friday as the 2017 Outstanding Citizen of the Year. The award offered by Brainerd Community Action was presented to Mau during halftime of the Brainerd Warriors football game...

Steve Mau is recognized Friday as the 2017 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, presented by Brainerd Community Action during halftime of the Brainerd Warriors football game at Adamson Field. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery
Steve Mau is recognized Friday as the 2017 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, presented by Brainerd Community Action during halftime of the Brainerd Warriors football game at Adamson Field. Kelly Humphrey/Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery

Area businessman, volunteer and philanthropist Steve Mau was recognized Friday as the 2017 Outstanding Citizen of the Year.

The award offered by Brainerd Community Action was presented to Mau during halftime of the Brainerd Warriors football game at Adamson Field.

Mau, owner of Brainerd General Rental, was recognized for "his presence, his passion, his energy, his insight, his leadership and his vision that has made the Brainerd lakes area a better place to live," Holly Holm, executive director of Brainerd Community Action, wrote in an announcement read over the loudspeaker at Friday's game.

"Steve's just got an open kindness and heart to anybody, that's what makes him a great person," said Frank Soukup, director of marketing at Grand View Lodge. In 2014, Mau was co-chair of the Governor's Fishing Opener event hosted by the city of Nisswa, alongside Soukup.

Soukup said Mau was one of the hearts of the whole event and he knew the opener would be a success when Mau joined the effort.

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"He's just a natural born leader," Soukup said.

Soukup said Mau is one of those people who quietly reaches out to help others.

"It makes you want to try to achieve more yourself, that's why he's a great person to be around," Soukup said.

Matt Kilian, president of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said Mau should be recognized for much more than his business pursuits.

"He has just a magnetic personality and leadership comes very natural to Steve," Kilian said. "People gravitate toward him. He's very much a servant leader that cares about not only what his cause is, but how it supports the community and benefits everybody. ... He has a heart of gold and he's very deserving of the Outstanding Citizen of the Year award."

Mau has served in numerous capacities as part of community organizations. He is committee chairman for the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, an event that's become an annual tradition in its third year. He started the Brainerd Lakes Christian Business Men's Connection, which developed the prayer breakfast event.

Mau provided the opening remarks at this year's event, noting his own introspection included daily devotionals this year looking at humility and forgiveness. Mau said he asked himself who he has asked forgiveness from and who he has forgiven.

"Steve's faith is very important to him and he's found a way to share his faith through the Christian Business Men's Connection," Kilian said. Kilian said he believed Mau played a role in helping other business owners in the community connect their faith with their leadership in business.

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He has served as the board chairman of the Lakes Area Pregnancy Support Center and helped oversee the organization's transition to a new facility. He led the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, and was one of the business owners who developed the concept of the Lakes Proud campaign, encouraging support of local businesses.

Earlier this year, Mau led a campaign, "Rent to the Max," in which he matched monetary donations to raise awareness for a community nonprofit. The homage to the annual Give to the Max campaign offered to match the first $2,500 to help Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity has a mission Mau said he's always believed in as it involves the people who are going to live in the home in the construction of it while supporting them. In the past Brainerd General Rental partnered with Habitat for training for the nonprofit's volunteers so they'd know how to use certain tools safely on the worksite. This year, Mau decided to help by using his business visibility along Highway 371 to raise awareness for the nonprofit mission.

Interviewed in May, Mau said the key for any community to be strong is to have a good education system and have people feel there are real opportunities for them. In the lakes area, another key for growth is to be good stewards of the environment, Mau said.

Mau pointed to the robust service clubs in the lake area like Sertoma, Kiwanis, Lions and others, as well as engagement of people in the communities.

"All those things contribute to a vibrancy of a community," Mau said. "... I think we all have to continue to ask ourselves are we doing enough? ... People want to get up in the morning and feel there is a purpose. We're called to love and care for one another ... I just want to make sure we are doing our part."

Mau was the subject of 10 nomination letters, including the Raboin & Francis Law Firm, the Brainerd Area Sertoma Club, the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce, Mid-Minnesota Builders Association, the Lakes Area Pregnancy Support Center, Ultra Paws, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, BrandResolve, Cote Family Companies/Grand View Lodge and Lord of Life Lutheran Church.

Criteria for the Outstanding Citizen of the Year award includes:

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• The award is to be given to a living person.

• The nominee will have volunteered services that are above and beyond normal employment or business pursuits.

• The services performed have contributed to the welfare of the community.

• The services were performed for an extended period of time.

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